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May 27, 2008

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Some good questions being asked by Brian and Burton.

Brian wrote:

"Yet my sense of purpose feels so right to me. As yours does to you. Ditto for my sense of knowing, because I just know. Geez, why can't other people see that my purpose and my knowing are so obviously the way things are?!"

A look at the psychology of Paiget may be useful here. He demonstrated with children's behaviour that they display egocentricity - a world view that doesn't take into account the possibility of another child's view. My guess is that we don't move out of this phase completely and that there is a broad spectrum of people in the world. Some who are extremely cognisant of other's views and those like the child who cannot conceive of any world view other than his own.

Also we have been shaped by a lifetime's conditioning. Some people's conditioning provides the parameters for independent thought and others doesn't. Guess which one feels comfortable with a belief system.

So we can probably generally say that for most of the time we don't see things as they are, but we see things as we are. This is the human condition. This is what makes the world go round and other such cliches. Is there a better way? Of course there is - if we don't get lost in the endless corridors of our own mind.

Is this a mirage or is this the most level-headed, non-fundamentalist post you've ever written?

Well done.

Marcel - I agree!
Look back at the many comments from people who have said that science is a form of religion. Look at the number of times people have questioned Brian's certainty about his particular point of view.

Brian, I am glad you found an authority from whom you could accept this concept; can tolerance for the alien be far behind?

"What to do?" Do? DO?!?

Marcel and Edward, don't get too excited. Tomorrow is another blogging day. There's more to say about science and objectivity (echoing my man, Burton).

Still, I have changed my views some. Guess you could say that I don't bow down quite as low before the Great God of Objective Reality.

Or rather, I realize that when I genuflect I'm really bowing before my own personal vision of reality -- as each of us does, really.

Burton wrote...
> Is it possible to have a sense of meaning
> and purpose without some feeling of faith?

We don't need to bring a sense of meaning and purpose to each moment. Rather, we can find our meaning and purpose IN each moment.

It's like a mirror. It doesn't have any picture of its own. But precisely for that reason, it can always reflect what's in front of it. Likewise, if we wake up each morning (and each moment) with no meaning and purpose, then we can reflect the meaning and purpose of each moment as it arises.

When you're hungry, eat; when you're tired, sleep; when someone is suffering, help.

For people who feel the need for an explicit purpose, Buddhism offers "Help all beings." This can be medicinally useful, since it's helps cut off the I/my/me-thinking at the root of suffering. Yet the question "HOW do I help other beings?" is dependent on our ever-changing situation; the only "answer" we can bring to it is "Don't know."

Re "people who have said that science is a form of religion"... there was a time when nearly all scientists thought the universe was expanding at a decelerating rate. Then, evidence came in from new telescopes that showed the expansion was actually accelerating, and the entire scientific world had to reject old models and look for a new one.

That's the distinction between science and religion. In science, whenever you believe something, there's a process by which your belief can be disproven and rejected. Religion (believing in something based on authority, or because it feels good) has no such process.

Stuart
http://stuart-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/

Stuart, I resonate with what you said. But this is a good example of how meaning is ever present, albeit unconsciously.

You get a sense of meaningfulness from approaching life without meaning or purpose. Fine, but this is meaning all the same.

Like Burton says, we're hard wired neurologically for meaning. Even when we reject meaningfulness, as a philosophical anarchist does, it's with a sense of "This is what life is all about."

Brian, Stuart, good discussion.

here's my two cents. I saw a clip on youtube yesterday of a zen master (don't know who) discussing the difference between noise and sound. Noise is "distracting stuff out there" while sound is the subjectively produced or claimed phenomenon. He claims that practice makes everything into sound, or eliminates the dichotomy of noise and sound. Is it possible to stop mentally circling phenomena and saying, "that's me!"? I think it is, but only through training. Training in this case means practicing being with whatever arises without claiming it or rejecting it. I think it also has something to do with concentration. When feeling concentrated, quiet, and "here," the concern for what is whose and whose is what seems less relevant.

Brian said...
> You get a sense of meaningfulness from
> approaching life without meaning or
> purpose. Fine, but this is meaning all the
> same.

My Zen teacher used to say, "'No meaning' is 'Big meaning.'" He said that "No meaning, no purpose" can become great love and compassion.

If you've got a purpose in life, then whenever you meet another being, the relationship is filtered by whether they help or hinder you in achieving your purpose. But when there's no meaning and no purpose of your own, then you can be completely connected with whoever is in front of you.

"If you've got a purpose in life, then whenever you meet another being, the relationship is filtered by whether they help or hinder you in achieving your purpose. But when there's no meaning and no purpose of your own, then you can be completely connected with whoever is in front of you."

I understand the message in the above statement. Unfortunately, the above, is open to misinterpretation. In some cases, a small amount of purpose and meaning is ok. IMO, the being, in front of me, might have needs that I should address with a little or no purpose and meaning. There is much to be exposed to from a teacher. Teaching is ok. The teacher doesn't need to belong to any particular faith.

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